Sunday, September 05, 2010

Of crackers and s***holes

S***hole isn't a geological process.

S***hole is a state of mind that -- eventually -- becomes a geographical reality.

That's my explanation for places like St. Helena Parish, La., and I'm sticking to it. And, frankly, all the evidence is on my side.

Last week, I noted the parish's crumbling -- no, literally crumbling -- schools. That goes along with already collapsed educational achievement, refusal of voters to financially support the school system and how they are content to warehouse students, 95.5 percent of whom are black, under conditions that would get someone cited for animal cruelty if it were dogs we were talking about.

Let me clarify -- animal cruelty anywhere else in these United States apart from Louisiana.

Earlier, I cited this as an example of Tea Party America, which it is. I didn't hit the racial angle hard, because I couldn't be sure, despite my suspicions as a Louisiana native.

One thing is clear, though. Whites, who make up about half the parish's population, abandoned the public schools at some point during the federally mandated racial-integration life cycle in St. Helena, which has been going on for 57 years now. Fifty-seven years!

Same thing happened in my hometown, Baton Rouge. Its federal desegregation case dragged on nearly that long. And by the time it was put to rest, it was pointless; there weren't enough whites left to "desegregate" much of anything.

OF COURSE, the argument goes that taxpayers refuse to see their tax dollars be flushed down the toilet of a dysfunctional school system, long on corruption and short on results. Is that the "chicken" part or the "egg" part of the whole "What came first?" argument?

And no matter how much these spiritual children of Leander Perez and Willie Rainach protest it's "not racial," it's clear it all boils down to "Nigger ain't getting no tax money." When you hear Louisiana people -- or most Americans, actually -- protest long and loudly that something's not about race . . . it's all about race.

And where the news coverage of the sad state of St. Helena schools (and a federal judge's mulling whether to raise school taxes there by decree) left some doubt concerning motivations, the comments box doesn't. People can restrain themselves only for so long.

Then true colors start to show. As does the attitude that "liberals" are just ignorant if they can't see why the racist position is the utterly logical one.

Saturday's article in The Advocate went like this:

A federal judge is scheduled to try on Wednesday to sort out what to do about St. Helena Parish’s dilapidated public schools.

Reports from three state agencies and an architect show that the problems with the buildings go deeper than the cosmetic blemishes visible to a visitor.

Likewise, difficulties between the school system and the community, which is almost equally divided racially, are also deep-rooted, say people involved in the case.

U.S. Census Bureau statistics show that the population of the parish is 51.3 percent black and 47.8 percent white. A walk through the halls of St. Helena Central High School shows few white faces.

The population of the parish’s public schools is 95 percent black, Superintendent of Schools Daisy Slan said in an interview.

Voters have rejected four school-improvement property tax proposals in three years, and race is playing an issue, according to a court filing submitted by School Board attorney Nelson Taylor.

“The white community not only abandoned the public school system physically, it withdrew its financial support as well,” Taylor wrote in requesting the judge to order a pair of taxes put in place without a vote of the electorate.

One of the proposed property taxes would pay to put the wages of St. Helena teachers and staff on par with their counterparts in neighboring parishes. The other tax would fund a bond issue to build new schools.

Alton Travis, who is one of two white members of the six-member St. Helena School Board, said the board is split on the issue of whether a federal judge should impose new taxes by court order. Travis said he opposes the idea.

Nelson’s implication that white voters alone are killing school tax proposals is wrong, Travis said.

The majority of the parish’s population is black and about 60 percent of the people voting have opposed an additional school tax, he said.

“The board attorney makes this tax issue appear to be a racial issue and it’s not,” Travis said.

THEN the Baton Rouge paper went on to report this:

Asked about the matter, attorney Jonathan “Jay” Augustine, who made the request, said his main objective is to get St. Helena students into a better environment and “to give the court more options, not less.”

The tax issue also will be on the table during Wednesday’s hearing.

One of the taxes the School Board is asking the judge to order, without a vote by the electorate, is a 62.3-mill property tax to increase employee salaries, which Slan said are well below those of surrounding parishes. The second is a tax large enough to fund $27.5 million in new school construction.

“I’m totally against a tax without a vote,” Travis, one of the two white School Board members, said.

Travis said that while he doesn’t dispute the need for improvements in the schools, he thinks the imposition of a tax without a vote of the people “is wrong.”

Taylor, the School Board attorney, said in an interview there is “reasonable precedent” for a federal judge to give the School Board authority to levy such a tax.

The school system doesn’t have the funds to operate schools that provide students a safe place in which to learn, the School Board attorney said.

“Public schools require public support,” Taylor said.

Without the support of the most influential voters in the parish, there isn’t much of a chance of a school tax gaining approval in parishwide balloting, he said.

Most of the white population left the school system after schools were desegregated in the 1960s, Taylor said.

FUNNY, isn't it, how it's "wrong" to impose taxes without a vote, but it's perfectly OK for whites to abandon public schools en masse, then be the linchpin of a withdrawal of public support for those same public schools?

Alton Travis is damned lucky I'm not on the federal bench in Baton Rouge. It would not go well for the good, white Christian people of St. Helena Parish.

Why? For that answer, let's go to the Advocate's comments section.

Boilerroom53 kicks things off by sticking to the "race is not an issue" party line:

Race is not an issue Mr. Taylor. As a proud resident of St. Helena parish who also happens to be white, I am in the minority in this parish. A majority of voters are required to pass the taxes which have repeatedly been voted down over the past three years. I would remind you that insanity is defined by doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. It is clear that the people of our parish are not in favor of a property tax to fund the school system. Perhaps another and more equitable tax should be considered rather than simply placing the same property tax before the voters again. It is alarming that this property tax which has been voted down by a majority of people may simply be imposed by a single judge over the will of the voters.

MR. ROOM (Mr. 53?) may think this argument is novel. I heard the same 40 years ago when the "tyrannical" federal judge ordered neighborhood schools as a desegregation plan.

We have a republic, not a mobocracy. Minorities have rights, and white folks can't do whatever they want by majority vote.

But at least we don't have to endure the facade of faux enlightenment for long. Truth1 says what he or she (it?) really thinks. And remember, boys and girls, raseizm maykez yew smrot:

Taxation w/o representation??? Sounds familiar dont it. Also proves whites dont want to associate w/blacks... why do you think that might be??? School taxes should be put on property by the state w/the proceeds alocated to the school boards by student population. Also shows the blacks are not a self sustaining culture w/o dragging down other peoples w/them... both economicly & socialy. We no longer have a sustainable civilization in this country. Degenerative diversity is destroying our civilization.

TommyRucker tries a more sophisticated approach, however. I call this the "Black Folk Tear S*** Up" gambit:

The real issue is that the schools are TRASHED. Why should people give up their little hard earned money when pupils and students are NOT taking care of the school property. Most of the tax money is going into the hands of employees, teachers and administrators as they have unbelievable PERKS. People will support systems that are well run and when they TRUST that their tax money is not going to be WASTED. Many of these school administrators allow their schools to be trashed so they can use them politically to gain PERSONALLY. Many of these "educators" are using these kids as that is what demagogues have always done, they USE members of the MOB to enrich themselves personally and blame their failures on someone else (a scapegoat). They have learned well from other demagogues as they practice the principles that characterize demagogues.

AND ON . . . and on . . . and on it goes:


Looks like we need to introduce another "option" for the Judge Brady....what if the school was cleaned up...really cleaned....doesn't look like the problems are all structural....maybe the janitorial staff needs to be replaced with a few maintenance employees and people who know that their job is to clean. Many of the problems look to be cleanliness related....hmmmm....not popular....wonder why? And, what does the state say about the condition of the middle school that was taken over? Are they complaining, too? I haven't heard anything from them about this. Didn't they just take over this last year or two? It might be worth it if Judge Brady imposed a tax, dismissed all of the St. Helena School Staff - supt. to custodian - and replaced them with staff that worked and operated like Livingston or Zachary educators. I'm certain there would be instructional improvement even if the kids had to remaiin in the old schools.


The La Dept of Ed website reports the parish gets $10,076.00 per student compared to the state average of $9,781.00 for 2008-2009 school year. And if you do the math, it comes to $12,000,000 plus just as previously commented on. This is additionally shocking when you see that Livingston and Tangi schools got $8220.00 and $8229.00 per pupil. The question is where is this money going? By their own admission, St Helena teachers are paid less than surrounding parishes. It certainly isn't going to the facilities as evidenced by inspections of the buildings. So, one is left to wonder how much is being paid to the "non-teaching" staff and what is the relationship of these people to members of the parish school board. The race card is a red herring to deflect attention away from how the funds are being used. A child has one chance at an education and if the local public school is unable to provide it year after year, responsible parents have to look at alternatives. Address the issue of a quality education and this school will have the support of the parish.


The St. Helena School System (the only parish of all parishes with only three schools to take care of) situation is nothing new. Let's sum it up, timber is the only tax base in a parish with one red light, high minority population, low socio-economic background, ignorance, corruption, vote buying from my understanding including not passing a tax, flight to Tangipahoa and Livingston. As with anything, it has come to a catharsis, a climax after the rising action, to a halt... These conditions didn't start, it is a combination of poor management and an eroding tax base unwilling to pay for the ignorant fieldhands caring only for Hawks football.


Mr. Taylor wants a federal judge to impose a tax that a vote of the people failed to approve?! Obviously another Southern Law graduate who fell asleep during the Constitutional law class. We fought a little thing called the Revolutionary War over this issue, counselor. Face it. Until the voters of St. Helena take responsibility for the education and future of their children, they remain doomed to live in an environment of welfare, unwed motherhood and incarceration. Then again, it's easier for some to play the race card and blame everyone but those who live the welfare mentality. The majority of parish voters, regardless of race, are obviously tired of their tax dollars being flushed into a system that seems (and likely is) helpless and hopeless. Build all the new schools you want in the parish. Come back in three years and they'll look like a bomb hit them. Can you imagine what a day at that high school must be like? Dixon Correctional likely has fewer problems.

CAN YOU IMAGINE what a day living in St. Helena Parish must be like? Life in a Third World country likely would seem like an improvement over such a gigantic s***hole.

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